Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

EPA’s relaxed enforcement amid virus draws mixed state reaction

State regulators are giving mixed responses to the EPA’s relaxed enforcement on a range of environmental obligations by facilities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Environmental Protection Agency said this week it wouldn’t seek penalties for violations covered by the emergency policy. … The California Environmental Protection Agency said its enforcement authority “remains intact” in spite of the EPA memo.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Depletion of interconnected surface waters: Not that simple

Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of Santa Cruz. In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the depletion of interconnected surface water.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority approves metering standards, requirements

The Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority signed off on an ordinance and related resolution officially requiring all major pumpers needing metering on all groundwater extraction facilities and pumps during a board meeting on Thursday.

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: District sues to stop salty water exchange

The James Irrigation District in western Fresno County has sued the Westlands Water District over its plan to let farmers pump salty groundwater into the Mendota Pool in exchange for water from the San Luis Reservoir.

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Arizona: Groundwater aquifers can expect a boost from March rains

March rain has left Salt River Project reservoirs as full as they’ve been in a decade. The utility is discharging water to make room for the runoff, providing a boost to the underlying aquifers. The utility says the Salt and Verde river systems are at a combined 94% of capacity, almost 20 points higher than last year.

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

SGMA to dry up one-fifth of irrigated San Joaquin Valley farmland

The report by David Sunding and David Roland-Holst, professors at University of California, Berkeley, estimates that one-fifth of cultivated farmland in the San Joaquin Valley will be permanently lost as groundwater plans take hold and water supplies are severely restricted.

Aquafornia news Daily Californian

Addressing arsenic problems in rural California

Arsenic is one of the most toxic elements in the Earth’s crust. It is widely distributed, and under certain geochemical conditions, it dissolves into groundwater, which then gets pumped out for human use. Arsenic presents the highest cancer risk of any regulated carcinogens among drinking water contaminants when the risk from each is ranked at its maximum allowable concentration.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

DWR report: Groundwater levels continue to rebound from last drought

The changes in groundwater levels in this report illustrate how groundwater changes over time based on hydrologic conditions. A one-year comparison of groundwater levels provides information about the short-term effects of a single wet or dry year, while a multi-year comparison of groundwater levels provides information about trends in groundwater storage. Groundwater is an important component of water budgets throughout the state …

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Groups bring suit over secret approval process for PFAS chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency has allowed hundreds of new PFAS chemicals to enter commerce under the Toxic Substances Control Act since 2006, continuing to do so in recent years even as new research about the dangers of PFAS emerges.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

David Orth gives his observations on how SGMA implementation is playing out in the San Joaquin Valley

David Orth is the principal of New Current Water and Land, which offers strategic planning, program implementation, and water resource development services. At the California Irrigation Institute’s 2020 Annual Conference, he gave his observations having watched Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) form and develop their Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014.

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Aquafornia news SJV Water

Blog: Central Valley groundwater markets emerging under SGMA

Central Valley farmers may soon have another crop to sell along with almonds, tomatoes and peppers — the groundwater beneath their land. Proposed groundwater markets have popped up in just about every groundwater sustainability plan filed with the state Jan. 31.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Infrastructure: What’s on tap for California

At the 2020 Kern County Water Summit, California Water Commission Chair Armando Quintero spoke about the role of the commission, gave an update on the Water Storage Investment Program and the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, and spoke of their new role defined in the water resiliency portfolio.

Aquafornia news San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Former Arizona governor apologizes for failing rural counties on groundwater issues

When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management, he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Opinion: Significant progress being made in implementing the state’s groundwater law

I remember being surprised when attending a local Groundwater Sustainability Agency meeting and I first saw a schematic that visually depicted the various levels of groundwater underneath one of the Central Valley’s numerous subbasins.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Military sees surge in sites with ‘forever chemical’ contamination

The military now has at least 651 sites that have been contaminated with cancer-linked “forever chemicals,” a more than 50 percent jump from its last tally. The information was released Friday in a report from the Department of Defense (DOD), part of a task force designed to help the military remove a class of chemicals known as PFAS from the water supply near numerous military bases.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona Legislature should act on rural groundwater, former Gov. Bruce Babbitt says

Former Gov. Bruce Babbitt is speaking out about widespread problems of excessive groundwater pumping in rural areas of Arizona, saying the state Legislature should give counties and communities the power to protect their rapidly declining aquifers. Babbitt appealed for action during a visit this week to the Willcox area, where heavy pumping for farms has led to falling water tables and left a growing number of families with dry wells.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Lithium startup backed by Bill Gates targets Salton Sea

On Monday, Lilac Solutions and the Australian company Controlled Thermal Resources announced they’re partnering to develop a lithium-extraction facility at the Salton Sea. The Australian firm is trying to build the area’s first new geothermal power plant in a decade, a project that would be far more lucrative if the super-heated underground fluid could produce lithium in addition to electricity.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Aquafornia news KHTS Radio

Santa Clarita Valley Water closing 13 additional wells to comply with new PFAS rules

The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency (SCV Water) has announced that they are set to voluntarily shut down 13 additional wells in compliance with new state PFAS regulations, officials said Friday. The levels of PFAS found are above the state-mandated response level, according to Kathie Martin, public information officer for Santa Clarita Valley Water.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Senate Democrats unveil $20B bill to battle ‘forever chemical’ contamination

A new bill from Senate Democrats would roll out $20 billion in funding to remove cancer-linked “forever chemicals” from water as it contaminates supplies across the country.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Groundwater management is a team effort at DWR

Besides reviewing and making final determinations on submitted plans that show how local agencies will manage their groundwater basins for long-term sustainability, DWR staff provide essential resources to local water agencies to help them better understand and manage their local basins. … Below are some examples of DWR staff contributions to groundwater management…

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Borrego Valley’s strategy for a negotiated resolution under SGMA

Groundwater is the sole source of water supply for the valley; there isn’t any surface water or imported water available. After decades of excessive pumping, the Borrego Groundwater Basin is considered critically overdrafted and dramatic reductions in pumping – up to 70% by the latest estimate – will be needed to reach sustainability.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: A reality check on groundwater overdraft in the San Joaquin Valley

This year marks a new phase in California’s landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). At the end of January, water users in 21 critically overdrafted basins delivered their first groundwater sustainability plans to the state Department of Water Resources. In this series, we examine the 36 plans submitted for 11 critically overdrafted basins in the San Joaquin Valley—California’s largest farming region. … This post addresses key questions about groundwater budgets.

Aquafornia news Santa Maria Sun

CalGEM public hearing held in Santa Maria allows locals to opine on proposed expansion of Cat Canyon oil production

People flanked by handmade signs spill out of a charter bus that just arrived from UC Santa Barbara. They join a growing rally outside the Veterans Memorial Center in Santa Maria, chanting, “Health, not oil,” and, “No new oil, keep it in the soil!” A microphone passed around gave different folks and organizations a chance to lead the rally cries.

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: From “extinct” to “prolific”

“’Listen to the land’ is my mantra,” said Susan Sorrells, a 4th generation resident and owner of Shoshone, California. … Integrating nature with community became a part of Sorrells’ and her husband Robby Haines’ vision for stewarding the land. As a gateway to Death Valley National Park, ecotourism became their economic engine.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

District Court judge reaffirms decision to deny water for Las Vegas pipeline

A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to look in a different direction.”

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Report predicts how water losses will hit SJ Valley

San Joaquin Valley farmers say they hope a newly released report will capture the attention of Californians about the potential impact of water shortages in the region. The report, released last week, said water shortages could cause 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland to be fallowed and cost as many as 85,000 jobs.

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Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Collaboration is the new game in California water

If agriculture in the valley is going to survive, water leaders need to get cozy with new ideas and new allies. And, yes, that means environmentalists.

Aquafornia news Governing

California’s ’salad bowl’ recharges depleted aquifer

A multi-partner water recycling project is helping Monterey, Calif., stabilize and replenish its dwindling groundwater supply. The project could serve as a model for shrinking aquifers in other regions of the country.

Aquafornia news Santa Barbara Independent

Cuyama Valley carrot growers get the stick

The Cuyama Valley is the driest agricultural region in the county; the valley floor gets just a little more rain than the Sahara. Yet for the past 75 years, this high desert region has been a mecca for water-intensive farming on an industrial scale — first alfalfa, and now carrots, a $69 million annual crop. … Now, to the rescue — belatedly — comes the state Groundwater Sustainability Act of 2014…

Aquafornia news Circle of Bue

Hidden flood risk for San Francisco Bay Area communities lurks underground

As sea levels rise, so do the waters in the bay, which connects to the Pacific Ocean through the Golden Gate. That relationship between rising ocean levels and rising bay levels is well known. What is less obvious is that groundwater levels are rising as well, adding another variable to the region’s equation of increasing flood risk.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

A new twist on hydropower could be a key climate solution

The pit was a bustling iron mine once, churning out ore that was shipped by rail to a nearby Kaiser Steel plant. When steel manufacturing declined, Los Angeles County tried to turn the abandoned mine into a massive landfill. Conservationists hope the area will someday become part of Joshua Tree National Park, which surrounds it on three sides. Steve Lowe has a radically different vision.

Aquafornia news KSBY

Santa Maria community meets on the future of oil drilling

People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Opinion: The fate of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley

California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 is now “the law of the land (state)” and as such there will be restricted agricultural groundwater pumping throughout the San Joaquin Valley…

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California wants limit for Erin Brockovich chemical in water

The State Water Resources Control Board Tuesday adopted its 2020 priorities, which include setting a maximum contaminant level of the heavy metal, also known as chromium-6. A proposed rule setting the limit could come in early 2021.

Aquafornia news The Business Journal

Study: Water restrictions to mean billions in lost farm revenue

The study by economists David Sunding and David Roland-Holst at UC Berkeley examined the economic impact of two types of restrictions to water supplies for ag: on groundwater pumping as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and future reductions in surface water due to regulatory processes by the state and federal government.

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Aquafornia news KMJ Radio

UC Berkeley water report sinks California farm industry, says Valley assemblyman

The report done by University of California, Berkeley, economists Dr. David Sunding and Dr. David Roland-Holst shows that the California economy will suffer unless responsible, balanced water reforms are enacted in the effort to achieve groundwater sustainability goals in the San Joaquin Valley.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Bills that would strengthen rural groundwater rules die in Arizona Legislature

Two bills that would make it easier for state regulators and county officials to limit well-drilling and groundwater pumping have died in the Arizona Legislature despite support from lawmakers and pleas from county officials who are asking for help to protect their rapidly declining aquifers.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

U.S. considers recycling more wastewater, including from oil and gas fields

Some environmental groups eye the effort suspiciously, fearing the Trump administration will use the project to allow businesses to offload hazardous wastewater in ways that threaten drinking water sources and otherwise risk public health. Businesses including oil and gas developers have urged the Trump administration to allow them more ways to get rid of their increasing volumes of wastewater.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Military may be bound by state laws on ‘forever chemicals’

The Pentagon may be forced to follow new state environmental pollution standards for a family of manmade “forever chemicals” that may have been spilled at hundreds of military sites in the U.S., Defense Secretary Mark Esper told lawmakers. Esper was pressed Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing over the military’s use of widely used firefighting foam containing chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that never degrade.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

‘Without water we can’t grow anything’: Can small farms survive California’s landmark water law?

The Central Valley is America’s fruit bowl, and the heart of California’s $50bn agriculture industry. But the 2011-2017 drought raised serious questions about the future of that industry and forced the state to grapple with regulating the one thing fueling much of it: groundwater.

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Aquafornia news The Guardian

Everything you need to know about California’s historic water law

This year marks the first big deadline for the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), as dozens of agencies complete initial plans to protect overdrafted water resources. Here’s what you need to know:

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Court tosses environmental approval for 72,000 Kern County oil wells

A California appellate court on Tuesday threw out a Kern County law that allowed major oil producers to rely on a single, blanket environmental approval for 72,000 new oil wells, instead of facing scrutiny of each new project’s potential impact on air quality, drinking water, wildlife and other concerns.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Toxic Superfund cleanups decline to more than 30-year low

The federal government wrapped up cleanups at six Superfund sites around the country in the 2019 budget year, the fewest since three in 1986, EPA online records showed. The Superfund program was born out of the 1970′s disaster at Love Canal in New York, where industrial contaminants poisoned groundwater, spurred complaints of health problems and prompted presidential emergency declarations.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona Senate committee shelves groundwater bill after debate

State senators heard impassioned pleas from supporters of proposed legislation that would make it easier for Arizona water regulators to limit well-drilling in farming areas where groundwater levels are falling. But in the end, the bill was set aside, its future uncertain.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Salinas Valley seawater intrusion continues migrating deeper

Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of seawater intrusion continues slowing down.

Aquafornia news KGET

Arvin issues boil water notice to all customers due to well failure

The Arvin Community Service District has issued a boil water notice to its customers due to mechanical failures at two of its three active wells. … District General Manager Raul Barraza, Jr. said that the district has contractors working on both wells and hopes to have one or both wells back online as soon as possible. He expects the notice will last at least a few days.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Public comment opens for groundwater sustainability plans

Groundwater sustainability plans that have been submitted to the state are now online at the DWR SGMA Portal. Plans are open to public comment for 75 days after they were posted online. Below is a table of the submitted plans, the counties they cover and details about the public comment period for that plan.

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Aquafornia news Foothills Sun Gazette

Online tool assesses drought risk for residents on private wells, public water systems

California is doing more to preserve its groundwater levels than ever before, but a new, interactive tool by a local water advocacy group suggests it may not be enough. Last Wednesday, Visalia-based Community Water Center … argued that California will experience longer, more severe droughts due to climate change.

Aquafornia news Colusa County Sun-Herald

Growers needed for on-farm, groundwater recharge program

The Colusa Groundwater Authority, the California Department of Water Resources and The Nature Conservancy have partnered to conduct an on-farm, multi-benefit demonstration program for growers in two select project locations around Colusa County.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Subsidence of the California Aqueduct in the San Joaquin Valley

Recently, the Department of Water Resources released a report to supplement the 2017 California Aqueduct Subsidence Study that addresses specific issues within a 10-mile-wide study corridor… At the February meeting of Metropolitan’s Water Planning and Stewardship Committee, Ted Craddock, DWR Assistant Deputy Director of the State Water Project, provided an overview of the report.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: California agriculture in 2050: Still feeding people, maybe fewer acres and cows

Water supply concerns, regulations, labor issues, tariffs, climate change, and other challenges have prompted some rather dire predictions about the future of California agriculture. We talked to Dan Sumner—director of the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network—about his research on California agriculture in 2050.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Nearly half the country working on PFAS rules as EPA drags feet

More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of federal enforcement. Twenty-three states are writing their own guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

As Arizona weighs water bills, farms push back against reporting data

While the Arizona Legislature considers how to respond to problems of falling groundwater levels in rural areas, the agriculture industry is pushing back against proposals that would require owners of large wells across the state to measure and report how much water they’re pumping.

Aquafornia news KSBW TV

New online interactive tool helps Californians prepare for future drought

This rain-year has brought an alarmingly dry winter in California so far, according to climate change experts. Now, there’s a new tool to help Californians navigate your water supply. It’s an online tool that allows a person to see the groundwater levels in their area. The tool then gives a representation of what could be at risk or impacted if a drought hits.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Business Journal

Thursday Top of the Scroll: How SGMA could impact area farmers

By the most conservative estimate, 500,000 acres of agriculture land are expected to go fallow in the San Joaquin Valley as SGMA is implemented over the next 20 years, [David] Orth said, while some studies say it could be as much as 1 million acres. Since this process is just starting in the Sacramento Valley, it’s unclear how the area might be impacted, but in general, north of the Delta is in better shape.

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Aquafornia news Merced Sun-Star

Groundwater sustainability cuts individual, agricultural use

Do you have something to say about the state-mandated sustainability plan that will limit individual and agricultural groundwater consumption in Merced County? The Jan. 31 deadline for local agencies to submit their 20-year sustainable groundwater management plan has passed, kicking off a 75-day public comment period before the Department of Water Resources reviews it.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Synthetic chemicals in soils are ‘ticking time bomb’

A growing health crisis fueled by synthetic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in groundwater has garnered much attention in the last few years. The reported levels could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” as most of the chemicals are still migrating down slowly through the soil, according to Bo Guo, University of Arizona assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

New bills focus on measuring groundwater pumping in rural Arizona

Both Republicans and Democrats are backing measures in the Legislature that would enable Arizona to start measuring how much groundwater is pumped in unregulated rural areas where aquifers have been rapidly declining.

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Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. … That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Water management in California is crossing a major milestone, and we still have more work to do

Jan. 31 marked a major milestone for building groundwater sustainability and climate resilience into California’s complex and increasingly stressed water systems. It was the first major planning deadline for implementing the state’s historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Orange County Register

‘Forever chemicals’ trigger widespread closures of water wells

The state lowered the acceptable levels for two PFAS toxins in drinking water on Thursday, triggering the closure of wells throughout the California — including 33 in Orange County, which has been particularly plagued by the so-called “forever chemical.”

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Aquafornia news Yale Climate Connections

The pros and cons of enhanced geothermal energy systems

Unfortunately, there are few places so well-suited for geothermal energy as the site of the Geysers in California, which was built over an area with naturally occurring steam and a reservoir of hot water. That is why some experts advocate for enhanced geothermal energy systems (EGS), which pump water into the ground to tap natural heat sources, creating conditions for geothermal energy in areas where it would otherwise be impossible.

Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

Pure Water Monterey gets final state OK

Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both verbally and by email.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California’s multibillion-dollar problem: the toxic legacy of old oil wells

Across much of California, fossil fuel companies are leaving thousands of oil and gas wells unplugged and idle, potentially threatening the health of people living nearby and handing taxpayers a multibillion-dollar bill for the environmental cleanup.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Land bureau may exempt plans from environmental review

The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands would affect the environment, according to a document shared with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental Policy Act,

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: California canals damaged by sinking soil, groundwater pumping. New bills aim to help

Democratic congressman from Fresno introduced two pieces of legislation that aim to repair aging canals and water infrastructure in California that’s been damaged by sinking ground levels – called subsidence, caused by groundwater pumping.

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Aquafornia news The Hill

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez bill would outlaw fracking by 2025

A bill introduced last week by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) helped craft would ban fracking nationwide by 2025, according to its newly unveiled text. The legislation would immediately prevent federal agencies from issuing federal permits for expanded fracking, new fracking, new pipelines, new natural gas or oil export terminals and other gas and oil infrastructure.

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Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Dairy farmer in Turlock area fined over manure rules

The valley’s massive dairy industry routinely mixes manure-tainted wastewater into the irrigation supplies for corn and other feed crops. The state requires that the volume not exceed what the crops can take up as nutrients.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump administration eyes changes to environmental enforcement

The White House issued a notice [Thursday] seeking input on efforts to “reform enforcement” — a potential boon for the energy industry. … [Thursday's] memo, which appears in the Federal Register, states that federal enforcement has ballooned in recent decades but protections for defendants has not.

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Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

California ag faces a decade of challenges

On the heels of a seemingly perpetual drought that has slowed surface water deliveries to a trickle and made water transfers complicated and expensive, Joe Del Bosque and other growers face new pumping restrictions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. … The farm’s water costs have already more than doubled in the past 10 years…

Aquafornia news Western Farm Press

Monday Top of the Scroll: Deadline arrives for critically overdrafted basins

Overpumping of groundwater has led to a variety of negative effects including reduced groundwater levels, seawater intrusion, and degraded water quality. It has also led to subsidence, which causes damage to critical water infrastructure. In some cases, years of overpumping have left entire California communities and farms without safe and reliable local water supplies.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Less turf, fewer pools shrink per-home water use in Phoenix area

Large lawns and backyard pools were once common features of new homes in the Phoenix area, but not anymore. A recent study of single-family homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area showed that nearly two-thirds of homes do not have a swimming pool.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Groundwater plans are due in California, but the hard work is just getting started

January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when 21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

The nuts and bolts of the Central Valley Salts program

At a breakfast event hosted by the Water Association of Kern County shortly after the amendments were adopted, a panel discussed what the new program from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board means for dischargers in the Central Valley. The panel speakers were Clay Rodgers, Assistant Executive Officer at the regional water board; Tess Dunham, an attorney with Somach Simmons & Dunn; and Richard Meyerhoff, a water quality specialist with GEI Consultants.

Aquafornia news Valley Voice

Local ag warns Corcoran: Suit against Curtimade dairy will have statewide consequences

It was standing room only as supporters of Curtimade Dairy lined the walls of Corcoran City Council chambers during last night’s city council meeting. Corcoran is currently suing the Curti family for $65 million dollars for damages incurred when their dairy allegedly contaminated the city’s water supply at the height of the drought in 2015.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agua Caliente tribe sues Coachella Valley water districts, again

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has filed a second lawsuit against the Coachella Valley Water District and Desert Water Agency over groundwater. … In the new complaint filed on Jan. 24, the tribe asserts that it and its members should not have to pay a “replenishment assessment charge” for groundwater production on land owned by the tribe and individual tribal members.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

An old well springs to life and Santa Clara homeowners’ nightmare begins

Doug Ridley and Sherry Shen figured their condominium in Santa Clara would serve as a retirement nest egg, drawing enough rental income so they could comfortably travel to the United Kingdom and Asia visiting relatives. Instead, the last two years have turned into a homeowner’s nightmare, thanks to an old artesian well

Aquafornia news ABC30

City of Corcoran sues well-known dairy company for $65 million

The city of Corcoran and Curtimade Dairy have been neighbors for more than 100 years. But about four years ago, their relationship turned contentious. The city said it planned to sue the dairy for contaminating its drinking water wells with nitrates, a contaminant that if consumed, can interfere with the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to body tissues.

Aquafornia news Chino Champion

Chino sells 1.14 billion gallons of water to Fontana Water Company

The Chino City Council on Tuesday night approved selling 3,500-acre-feet of surplus groundwater to the Fontana Water Company for more than $2 million. … As of June 2019, the city of Chino’s stored groundwater reserves totaled approximately 120,000-acre-feet, which is equivalent to 31.1 billion gallons of water. 

Aquafornia news UC Merced News

Researchers aim to cure valley’s salty soil with $2.5m grant from NSF

A new project out of UC Merced — funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation — seeks to address this problem by developing an innovative, environmentally friendly and economically feasible system to desalinate and reuse agricultural drainage water.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

New film highlights fight for clean drinking water in Valley

Yolanda Cuevas saw herself on the big screen for the first time during the Saturday premiere of “The Great Water Divide: California’s Water Crisis” in Exeter. The short documentary focuses on Tooleville, a hamlet in eastern Tulare County where children can’t wash their hands, dishes or vegetables without supervision because the water is tainted with multiple contaminants.

Aquafornia news Irish Tmes

Are almonds bad for the environment?

A single almond takes about three and half litres of water to produce. Most almonds – an estimated 82 per cent – are grown in drought-afflicted California, where it constitutes a multibillion-dollar industry. The number of almond orchards has doubled in the last 20 years in California.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California oil and gas wells could cost $9 billion to plug, clean

Cleaning up the tens of thousands of oil and gas wells scattered across California — which includes plugging them, removing surface infrastructure and cleaning the soil — could eventually cost more than $9 billion if they fall to the state to handle, a new report commissioned by state oil regulators says.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona’s water system for suburban growth heads toward ‘train wreck,’ Babbitt says

A water management district created by a 1993 state law that allowed massive subdivisions to spread into the outer suburbs of Tucson and Phoenix is now heading for a “train wreck,” warns former Arizona Governor and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

New water recycling projects will help battle Central Coast’s seawater invasion

For decades, California’s coastal aquifers have been plagued by invading seawater, turning pristine wells into salty ruins. But the state’s coastal water agencies now plan to get more aggressive in holding back the invasion by injecting millions of gallons of treated sewage and other purified wastewater deep underground.

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Aquafornia news KQED Science

With some oil drilling on hold, lawmaker wants state to do more to prevent releases

The moratorium has led state officials to place on hold 58 permit applications for high-pressure cyclic steam wells, according to Don Drysdale, a spokesman for the Department of Conservation, which oversees the division now known as the California Geologic Energy Management Division, or CalGEM. A Southern California lawmaker who has launched an inquiry into the steam injection wells says CalGEM’s new rules don’t go far enough.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

California geothermal plan released after leasing spike

One of the biggest indicators of renewed geothermal interest occurred Thursday when the Bureau of Land Management published a final environmental impact statement on a California geothermal leasing area that sat on the shelf for eight years. The statement is for the proposed designation of a 22,805-acre Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area north of Ridgecrest, Calif., and west of Death Valley National Park.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

U.S. food trade increasingly leans on unsustainable groundwater

Konar and her colleagues combined groundwater depletion data with county-level food trade data. They found that, between 2002 and 2012, unsustainable groundwater use increased by 32 percent in products traded domestically. The increase was 38 percent for exported goods. If groundwater is like a bank account, then this is deficit spending.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

SGMA implementation: Groundwater Sustainability Plan evaluation and State Water Board intervention

A joint workshop hosted by the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board provides details on how incoming plans will be evaluated and what State Water Board intervention might look like.

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Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Desalination emerges as a possible solution for another Monterey County water challenge

The groundwater sustainability plan approved Jan. 9 features a slew of solutions like eradicating thirsty reeds invading the watershed, and proposed pumping limits that could lead to the fallowing of some farmland. Also envisioned are a “wall” against seawater and possibly a new desalination plant that would dwarf the project being pursued by the Monterey Peninsula’s water utility, California American Water.

Aquafornia news Bill Lane Center for the American West

Blog: Small farmers wait for California’s groundwater hammer to fall

Farmers, large and small, are beginning to grapple with what the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act means for them. One by one, local sustainability plans are starting to go public. Many farmers expect to see cutbacks on pumping once the program is fully implemented in 2040.

Aquafornia news Reuters

California water utility sues U.S. over PFAS contamination from Air Force base

The California-American Water Company accuses the Air Force of having acted negligently by contaminating a water well in Sacramento County with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is found in firefighting foam it used at a base.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Tulare County agency approves groundwater sustainability plan; Friant-Kern Canal among concerns

Now the hard work begins which includes determining just how much water growers can pump out of the ground. A big factor in deciding how much groundwater can be pump will be mitigating the decreased level of water in the Friant-Kern Canal, another major topic addressed at Friday’s meeting.

Aquafornia news Siskiyou Daily News

Supervisors extend state of emergency for marijuana-related problems

Siskiyou County supervisors last week supported Sheriff Jon Lopey’s assessment that illegal marijuana grows are detrimental to the health and well being of local residents and approved the extension of a local state of emergency through 2020.

Aquafornia news KQED Science

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Time’s up on groundwater plans: One of the most important new California water laws in 50 years explained

The landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, requires some of the state’s thirstiest areas form local “Groundwater Sustainability Agencies” and submit long-term plans by Jan. 31 for keeping aquifers healthy. Together, those plans will add up to a big reveal, as groundwater managers finally disclose how badly they believe their aquifers are overdrawn…

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Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Two Tulare County towns will be testing ground for ‘innovative’ arsenic-tainted water treatment

A $30,000 grant will bring together 20 high school students from Allensworth and Alpaugh to learn about safe drinking water, conduct hands-on testing of arsenic treatment, and present findings… The students will work with a UC Berkeley lab to test the technology, Electrochemical Arsenic Remediation…

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California sues to block Trump administration fracking plans

California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1 million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump administration from issuing new permits in the central part of the state.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Ducey defends Arizona’s record on water, says state has ‘more to do’

Gov. Doug Ducey is touting Arizona’s record on water while also acknowledging the state has “more to do” in some areas. Ducey talked about water policies this week in an interview for The Arizona Republic’s podcast The Gaggle.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Trump hails WOTUS overhaul as critics call for investigation

President Trump yesterday touted his repeal of key Clean Water Act regulations as more than three dozen current and former government officials called for an investigation into the scientific basis of his forthcoming replacement rule.

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Western Water Douglas E. Beeman Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Douglas E. Beeman

Water Resource Innovation, Hard-Earned Lessons and Colorado River Challenges — Western Water Year in Review
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK-Our 2019 articles spanned the gamut from groundwater sustainability and drought resiliency to collaboration and innovation

Smoke from the 2018 Camp Fire as viewed from Lake Oroville in Northern California. Innovative efforts to accelerate restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires. Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address persistent challenges facing the Colorado River. 

These were among the issues Western Water explored in 2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed them.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

GSP vote set for Jan. 16

After years of planning, discussion and debate, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority board will vote on the adoption of the groundwater sustainability plan at its meeting Thursday. … The plan will provide a roadmap to bring the IWV groundwater basin into sustainability by 2040. That includes reducing pumping of the basin to a safe yield of 7,650 acre-feet per year…

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Newsom administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio puts California on course to climate resilience

While Newsom has been forced to address climate change on many fronts during the past year – think wildfires, blackouts and automobile standards – the state’s myriad water challenges must remain a priority. Our state’s water system is decades old and needs to be re-envisioned for a new era.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona bills would strengthen rural groundwater rules

State legislators plan to tackle widespread problems of groundwater overpumping in rural Arizona this session, proposing bills that would make it easier to limit well-drilling in farming areas where residents have asked for help from the state to safeguard their dwindling water supplies.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Growers still unclear on how much groundwater they can use

The first question asked at the Eastern Tule Groundwater Sustainability Agency Board meeting on Friday represented the frustration of growers who are still facing the unknown. “It’s 2020,” the grower said, who went on to ask the board, referring to growers, “what can they pump?” The board is still working through the process on how much water growers can pump out of the ground.

Aquafornia news Gilroy Dispatch

Opinion: District to update water charge zones

Because zone changes have the potential to impact many well users, Valley Water conducted extensive stakeholder engagement on the preliminary study recommendations. … The board of directors agreed and directed our team to prepare the survey description to modify the two existing zones, and create two new zones in South County. The board will consider these changes in a public hearing later this year.

Aquafornia news Phoenix New Times

Five water issues to watch in Arizona in 2020

Plenty of work is on the docket for 2020 and beyond to manage and preserve Arizona’s water supply, even if that work might not write history the way last year’s signing of the Drought Contingency Plan did. … The state’s water managers are known for prioritizing predictability and making careful, gradual changes, not erratic or sudden ones. Here are five key issues to watch this year in Arizona water.

Aquafornia news Aptos Times

Pajaro Valley to expand delivered water service area

The F-Pipeline Project will construct pipelines to provide supplemental water service to approximately 700 acres of coastal farmland on the seaward side of San Andreas Road. … The purpose is to further reduce groundwater pumping to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Forever litigated ‘forever chemicals’: A guide to PFAS in courts

Court dockets are ballooning with litigation over PFAS, a vexing family of chemicals used in many consumer and industrial products. … Lawyers have compared the legal onslaught to litigation over asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint. Here’s a rundown of key cases.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona’s water supply a major issue for legislative session

Republican and Democratic Leaders of the Arizona House are again eyeing the state’s water supply as a major issue in the coming legislative session. GOP House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Democratic Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez have both highlighted overpumping in the state’s rural areas as a major issue for lawmakers when return to work on Monday.

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Aquafornia news The Grocer

How US almond growers are struggling to overcome ‘vampire’ image problem

Californian almonds will benefit from a new public campaign next week to capitalise on the explosion in plant-based eating… However, the environmental reputation of the almond sector is much less favourable. It was once labelled a “horticultural vampire” by US magazine New Republic for its perceived role in California’s most recent droughts.

Aquafornia news Morgan Hill Times

Opinion: District updates groundwater charge zones

Because the amount of groundwater pumped out far exceeds what is naturally replenished by rainfall, Valley Water’s groundwater management activities are critical to maintaining healthy groundwater basins.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Daily News

Owners of former Warner Center Rocketdyne site have a plan for cleanup, but activists push back

Recently, property owner United Technologies Corp. has asked the state to change cleanup requirements of the property from residential to commercial standards, according to the documents filed with the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which oversees the remediation efforts.

Aquafornia news City Watch LA

Opinion: Dirty water – dirty politics

Who can deny the value of potable water to every living thing in this city, this county, this state? Four million residential and industrial customers in 43 cities in the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and San Fernando Basins are dependent on multiple water sources – groundwater pumped from below them, by aqueduct from the Colorado River, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, Mono Lake, the Owens Valley and recycled from wastewater treatment plants.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

State of the Estuary: Underappreciated effects of sea-level rise on groundwater levels

When most think of the possible impacts of sea level rise, they think of coastal flooding and the growing risks to shore-based infrastructure — but there’s another sea level rise-related threat that is much less talked about. As sea level rises, so too will groundwater levels in coastal aquifers, and some recent studies have concluded that in some coastal areas, as much or more land could flood as a result of rising groundwater tables than will flood directly from rising tides.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Santa Clarita Valley Water releases report on wells

The majority of groundwater wells drawing water for Santa Clarita Valley Water contain enough of a non-stick chemical, which is a suspected carcinogen, that water officials are now required by the state to notify the county about the find. Of the agency’s 45 operational wells, 29 of them were found to contain tiny amounts of of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. 

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

ACWA panel: Establishing groundwater allocations under SGMA

As groundwater sustainability agencies prepare their plans to meet the requirements of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), they will likely utilize a variety of tools to achieve sustainability. … At ACWA’s fall conference, a panel discussed the legal framework, different types of groundwater rights, lessons learned from existing groundwater production allocation programs, and potential pitfalls …

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Water portfolio lays out state’s long-term plans

Farm organizations welcomed a new water planning document from state agencies while they analyzed the document’s proposed strategies. Titled the California Water Resilience Portfolio and released last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration described the document as an effort to guide water management in a way that works for people, the environment and the economy.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Fresno County adopts plan to avoid pumping too much groundwater

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors adopted a plan on Tuesday meant to maintain groundwater and keep users from pumping too much from underground basins. … Officials said the plan also lays out efforts to try to recharge groundwater — in other words, replace water sucked out from underground.

Aquafornia news Visalia Times Delta

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: 2 bills could decide fate of critical Friant-Kern Canal in 2020. Will reps outside Valley care?

A duo of bills, at the state and federal level, will likely determine the fate of the Friant-Kern Canal in a legislative year that is shaping up to be pivotal for Central Valley growers and ag communities.

Aquafornia news Monterey County Weekly

Del Rey Oaks’ new housing plan ignores impacts and lack of water supply, lawsuit says

One of the major problems LandWatch cites is a lack of water on former Fort Ord property which the city hopes to develop in the future, according to court documents. Two parcels, identified as sites 1 and 1A, are located over the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, considered overdrafted and already experiencing seawater intrusion.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Opinion: Biochar offers possible solution to cut ag water usage

A project in the Salinas Valley aims to remove contaminants like phosphate from the water at a lower cost using much less energy. … Partnering with the city of Salinas and the wastewater treatment facility, the project aims to remove phosphates efficiently and recycle water for groundwater recharge and irrigation water to farmers.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: DWR and State Water Resources Control Board host SGMA workshops

The Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board are hosting educational workshops in January to assist local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies submitting Groundwater Sustainability Plans for DWR evaluation. GSPs for critically over drafted basins are due by January 31, 2020.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Balancing water supply for all is 2020 priority

California water policy leaders say balancing the supply of groundwater by implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA, and addressing policies related to water supply and water quality, will continue to be priority issues in 2020.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Broad-ranging PFAS chemicals bill on House floor next week

A bill that would require the EPA to regulate PFAS, an emerging family of chemicals contaminating U.S. municipal and private water supplies, is slated to be the first major legislation that the House will take up in 2020.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles wants to store water under lake in Owens Valley

Quick shifts in climate have prompted Los Angeles to consider an unlikely place to bank some of its Sierra Nevada snowmelt: beneath dry Owens Lake, which the city drained starting in 1913 to fill the L.A. Aqueduct and supply a thirsty metropolis.

Aquafornia news National Public Radio

California water cutbacks could take large area of farmland out of production

California is increasing regulations on groundwater. For many farmers in the state, it is a step too far. The law’s critics say it could lead to a loss of half a million acres of farmland in California’s Central Valley. As Kerry Klein of member station KVPR in Fresno reports, some farmers are so worried, they’re quitting.

Aquafornia news Santa Cruz Sentinel

Pajaro Valley water project balances ag and saltwater intrusion

The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water, is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area, so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.

Aquafornia news Ventura County Star

Groups fight against opening up 1 million acres for drilling, fracking

Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The final supplemental environmental report released recently said the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials, however, disagree and have called the analysis flawed.

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Aquafornia news Monterey Herald

County to form groundwater agency for CEMEX site

Calling it a move to resolve a dispute between agencies that could endanger local groundwater management efforts, the Board of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to form a groundwater sustainability agency for the Cemex sand mining plant site.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Trump administration OKs leasing for new oil drilling in California — again

The Trump administration on Thursday gave the go-ahead to new oil-drilling leases on federal land in California, mostly around petroleum-rich Bakersfield but also in less-obvious spots in the Sierra foothills, such as near Yosemite National Park.

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Aquafornia news The Ceres Courier

Water project one more step closer to reality

The cities of Ceres and Turlock formed the Stanislaus Regional Water Authority which is in the process of hiring a design-build consultant to oversee the project to build the facility along the Tuolumne River west of the Fox Grove Fishing Access. Water will be drawn from the river, filtered and piped to both Turlock and to Ceres. Plans call for the water to be stored in a large aboveground water storage tank. The surface water will then be comingled with groundwater for use throughout the two cities.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

A model for the future of water

With a low rumble from a large pipe, water began flowing into a dirt basin at 25th Street West and Elizabeth Lake Road Thursday morning, christening the Upper Amargosa Creek Recharge Project and marking the debut of a new water storage endeavor in the Valley. Inside the basin, water flowed from holes in a round structure to begin flooding the bottom, where it will begin to percolate through the soil to the aquifer beneath.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Can recharge net metering contribute to sustainable groundwater management?

Dr. Michael Kiparsky is the founding director of the Wheeler Water Institute within the Center for Law, Energy, and Environment at the UC Berkeley School of Law. In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Dr. Kiparsky discussed a pilot project in the Pajaro Valley designed to incentivize private landowners to do groundwater recharge.

Aquafornia news Lompoc Record

Editorial: Essential ingredient for living

There are a number of very evident reasons, however, that Vandenberg Air Force Base is at the top of the Pentagon’s water-scarcity list…

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Congress to halt military use of toxic foam contaminating drinking water

Congress has reached a deal on a spending bill that would require the military to stop using firefighting foam containing toxic chemicals linked to cancer, but would abandon efforts to place stronger regulations on the chemicals.

Aquafornia news Valley Citizen

Blog: Draining the last great aquifer: A group project

Environmentalists who had high hopes Gavin Newsom would lead the way to sustainable water use in the San Joaquin Valley are waking up to the knowledge that the new governor isn’t going to be any more effective than the old governor. Sustainability is just too big a lift.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Opinion: Golf course, CVWD cooperation key to keeping groundwater control local

There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state — the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado River Basin that is already badly over allocated.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Proposed pump fee raise delayed

The recommended fee hike would have elevated the rate from a monthly $30 per-acre foot pumped to $75/acre-foot, according to IWVGA acting general manager Don Zdeba. It would turn the tables on the IWVGA ending 2020 fiscal year with $465,000 in the red to ending in the positive by $209,000.

Aquafornia news Valley Public Radio

Monday Top of the Scroll: ‘It would mean total annihilation’ – Some farmers sell off fields ahead of groundwater law

Farmers are worried… Some feel angry, even betrayed by lawmakers and the environmental groups that have pressured them into what they see as ever-tightening regulations on the ag industry. While many disagree with SGMA, most do acknowledge that California’s unrestricted groundwater use has been unsustainable.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas groundwater management a success, but overpumping issues loom

Net groundwater pumping peaked in 1968 at 86,000 acre-feet and started to go down in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s, according to the state’s 2018 groundwater pumpage inventory for the aquifer. Thanks to the water authority’s efforts to reduce pumping, only 10% of the water used in the valley now comes from groundwater, while the rest comes from Lake Mead, Mack said.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Megafarms and deeper wells are draining the water beneath rural Arizona – quietly, irreversibly

Unfettered pumping has taken a toll on the state’s aquifers for many years, but just as experts are calling for Arizona to develop plans to save its ancient underground water, pumping is accelerating and the problems are getting much worse. Big farming companies owned by out-of-state investors and foreign agriculture giants have descended on rural Arizona and snapped up farmland in areas where there is no limit on pumping.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Battle lines are drawn over oil drilling in California

The state is moving to ramp down oil production while Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a closer look at the environmental and health threats — especially land, air and water contamination — posed by energy extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive landscapes as well as public health.

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Aquafornia news New Times San Luis Obispo

Finished Paso Robles groundwater sustainability plan awaits final approval

The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance. Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29 percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Reclamation seeks to restore sinking California canal

Federal authorities are considering a plan to repair a California canal in the San Joaquin Valley that lost half its capacity to move water because of sinking ground. … The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Dec. 3 published an environmental assessment detailing plans to repair, raise, and realign the Friant-Kern Canal, which it began building in 1949.

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Aquafornia news Clean Water Action

Blog: Q&A on groundwater sustainability with Jane Wagner-Tyack of the League of Women Voters

I assumed the different local water agencies were in regular contact with their customers about important issues like groundwater and that they would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to educate the public about what was happening with SGMA. I learned that that was not the case. This is not a subject that engages people who don’t already have some reason to be concerned about it.

Aquafornia news The Confluence

Blog: Q&A with Linda Estelí Méndez Barrientos

In my current research, I have been studying the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories I have been working on with my colleagues.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Trading water: Can water shares help save California’s aquifers?

California is by far the United States’ most populous state, as well as its largest agricultural producer. Increasingly, it is also one of the country’s most parched places. But Edgar Terry, a fourth-generation farmer in Ventura County, just outside Los Angeles, thinks he has a key to reversing worsening water stress: establishing tradeable rights to shares of fast-depleting groundwater aquifers.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water in the bank: Coalition of agencies develops ‘historic’ sustainable groundwater plan

There’s progress to report in the momentous task of ensuring that San Joaquin County and surrounding communities have enough water to meet anticipated needs for the next 20 years.

Aquafornia news Chico News & Review

Testing the water

Back in 2016, California Water Service Co. took two of its groundwater wells in Chico out of service after tests showed they were contaminated with toxic flourinated chemicals known as PFAS—or per- and polyfluoralkyl substances—that have been linked to cancer and other adverse health effects. The move was done quietly.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pioneertown residents now have clean tap water — for the first time in decades

For three years, residents of the unincorporated San Bernardino County desert town have used twice-a-month shipments of bottled water because local wells were no longer meeting state standards for drinking water. … That changed in September, when work finished on a new pipeline that pulls clean water from a well 4 miles away in Yucca Valley.

Aquafornia news KCET

Paiute traditions inform water management practices in once-lush Owens Valley

By practicing careful and sustainable water management practices, the tribe has cultivated wild plants, including taboose, nahavita, as well as fruit trees and other vegetables. … However, starting in the mid-1800s with the arrival of European settlers making a claim to water rights in the Owens Valley, this once-lush area was transformed dramatically into a virtual desert in just decades.

Aquafornia news Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Water heads name advisers to groundwater agency

It wasn’t easy for water officials tasked with hammering out a plan to manage the Santa Clarita Valley’s groundwater to find seven people to serve as the agency’s advisory group, but on Monday, they approved a list of double the number they sought.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

An update on implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

At the November meeting of the California Water Commission, Taryn Ravazzini, DWR Deputy Director for Statewide Groundwater Management, updated the Commission on DWR’s recent activities and milestones related to SGMA.

Aquafornia news Champion Newspapers

Chino Hills wells could be offline three more years

It will be two years in December that the city of Chino Hills shut down its wells because of a new contamination level set by the state for the chemical 1,2,3-TCP (TCP) and it could take another three years before a filtration system can be built to treat the chemical and put the wells back in service, according to public works officials.

Aquafornia news Hanford Sentinel

Lemoore breaks ground on ‘life-changing’ drinking water project

City officials gathered Thursday afternoon in Lemoore to break ground on construction of a new groundwater treatment plant project. … The City obtains all of its drinking water from local groundwater resources that are challenged by naturally-occurring water quality issues. These issues include elevated levels of arsenic, iron, ammonia, total organic carbon and color…

Aquafornia news EurekAlert

News release: A study compares how water is managed in Spain, California and Australia

The study demonstrated the following: big legislative reforms in water management in these three areas have always come about as a consequence of important droughts. … One of the main differences lies in how water ownership is managed and how the market is regulated in this field.

Aquafornia news Napa Valley Register

State tells Napa County to form agency to monitor Napa Valley groundwater

California has told Napa County to form a local groundwater agency to ensure the underground reservoir that nurtures world-famous wine country is being kept in good shape. The county submitted more than 1,000 pages of documents to try to avoid that outcome.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Farmers file claim asking for ‘cooperative approach’

The complaint filed in court on Nov. 19 asks the court to “impose a ‘physical solution’ amongst nine groundwater users in the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin (“Basin”) to preserve and protect the Basin’s water supply, the investment-backed expectations of agriculture, and the economy that is dependent upon that supply.”

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Embattled water district an economic boon for Arizona, homebuilders’ study says

A district that recharges renewable water supplies to allow new housing development brings in about $13.4 billion a year in economic benefits, says a study written for a homebuilders’ group. …  The report goes against the grain of recommendations made over the years by academics, environmentalists and others to limit enrollment of new subdivisions in the district, saying that could cause a major economic setback for the state.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Judge advances LA County’s spat with Monsanto over PCB cleanup

A federal judge Thursday denied Monsanto’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit seeking payment from the company to clean up cancer-causing chemicals from Los Angeles County waterways and storm sewer pipelines.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Study: Increase in cannabis cultivation or residential development could impact water resources

Researchers in Canada and the U.S. investigated potential reductions in streamflow, caused by groundwater pumping for cannabis irrigation, in the Navarro River in Mendocino County, California… Reporting in the journal Environmental Research Communications, they note the combination of cannabis cultivation and residential use may cause significant streamflow depletion, with the largest impacts in late summer when streams and local fish species depend most on groundwater inflows.

Aquafornia news Coastalview.com

Opinion: Groundwater sustainability and climate action

By forming a Groundwater Sustainability Agency, we will be taking a step towards improved groundwater management in the Carpinteria Groundwater Basin… Through the development of a Climate Action Plan, we can examine ways to reduce our greenhouse gas production and prepare our water system to adapt to a changing environment.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

EPA sued over oil waste dumping in aquifer near Pismo Beach, California

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other endangered species.

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Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

A case study of the Fox Canyon groundwater market

Sarah Heard is Director of Conservation Economics & Finance with the California chapter of The Nature Conservancy… At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Heard gave this presentation on the Fox Canyon Groundwater Market in Ventura County, the first groundwater market since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: No new California fracking without scientific review, Newsom says

In a victory for critics of California’s oil drilling industry, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday stopped the approval of new hydraulic fracturing in the state until the permits for those projects can be reviewed by an independent panel of scientists. Newsom also imposed a moratorium on new permits for steam-injected oil drilling, another extraction method … linked to a massive petroleum spill in Kern County over the summer.

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Aquafornia news Bay City Beacon

Presidio’s new Tunnel Tops Park will connect ancient springs to SF Bay

Lew Stringer is leading a tour of the massive renovation of the entire watershed on the Presidio’s waterfront. The next string of pearls to be unearthed is Quartermaster Reach, a 7-acre salt marsh on the south side of Mason Street. … The $118 million park project, opening in late Spring of 2020, is part of a wetlands restoration movement across the Bay Area that will benefit all species – including us – facing the uncertain future of climate change.

Aquafornia news CityLab

Under Newsom, oil well approvals are going up

As Donald Trump’s administration pushes to expand oil extraction in California, the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has signed bill after bill limiting the practice. … But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Coachella water district approves $40 million loan for Oasis farm water pipeline

The Coachella Valley Water District on Monday approved taking on outside financing for what is believed to be the first time in its 101-year history for a $40 million pipeline to bring more Colorado River water to the region’s farmers, freeing up valuable groundwater for other uses.

Aquafornia news KVPR

Millions of gallons of oily water have surfaced in a Kern County oil field, and more keeps coming

Since July, at least a half dozen surface expressions have been reported into the state spill report database, including one in early November, totaling more than 2.7 million gallons of oil, water and mud. … Under strengthened state regulations, these surface expressions became illegal only in April of this year. But that doesn’t mean the public knows about all of them or how close they occur to communities…

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Water scarcity in Nevada hits ‘critical mass’

Nevada’s director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Nevada has already reached the point of “critical mass” or the breaking point when it comes to the problem of water scarcity. … “We are up against that much strain in our water resources across the state,” Director Brad Crowell said.

Aquafornia news Ridgecrest Daily Independent

Groundwater plan’s potential adverse impact on ag

When the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority technical and policy advisory committees reviewed a draft sustainability plan, it left many with questions and criticisms. The plan may also leave uncertainty for the valley’s agricultural industry. They face the brunt of the plan’s water sustainability requirements when the plan is implemented…

Aquafornia news Salon.com

Trump EPA proposal guts restrictions on toxic herbicide linked to birth defects

At issue in the proposal posted yesterday by the EPA is the threshold level of atrazine, the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S. Manufactured by Syngenta, atrazine is primarily used in agriculture as a weedkiller on crops. It is not authorized for use in the European Union, as the body said there wasn’t enough data to prove it wouldn’t have a harmful effect on groundwater.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Ancient aquifers are dropping as Tucson suburbs pump groundwater

Since 2009, the water level has dropped 7.3 feet a year in one of two SaddleBrooke Ranch wells and 1.7 feet a year in the other, says the Arizona Water Co., a private utility serving the development. This is one of many suburban developments surrounding Tucson where underground water tables are falling and are likely to fall much farther over the next century, state records show.

Aquafornia news Porterville Recorder

Path To sustainability: Workshop covers plan for groundwater

Groundwater in Tulare County, especially in Porterville, has been a hot topic of discussion for quite sometime. As groundwater levels have begun to subside, a viable and woking plan to maintain the groundwater has been state mandated, and the implementation of this plan is set to be put in action by January 31, 2020. But what exactly is the plan, and who is at stake?

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Wanted: Big vision, small ego for water agency manager

Kern County Water Agency General Manager Curtis Creel will retire Dec. 7, leaving a very large and important hole to fill. The agency is the second largest contractor on the State Water Project and pays 25 percent of the bill for that massive endeavor, giving it a very big voice on most water issues.

Aquafornia news Bakersfield Californian

Opinion: Health of our families, communities depends on safe water

California took a historic step forward this summer with the passage of the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund. This fund seeks to provide new targeted investments to end the state’s drinking water crisis, where one million Californians are impacted by unsafe water each year. Unfortunately, successful implementation of the fund is on a potential collision course with another California law, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act…

Aquafornia news Fairfield Daily Republic

Vacaville joins broader effort for single groundwater sustainability plan

City Council members – sitting as the directors of the Vacaville Groundwater Sustainability Agency – approved a collaboration agreement Tuesday with the other sustainability agencies in the Solano Subbasin in order to keep the groundwater grant funding flowing.

Aquafornia news Livermore Independent

Pleasanton OKs study to treat chemicals found in water wells

Pleasanton’s water utility shut down a drinking water well earlier this year after detecting unsafe levels of toxic chemicals linked to adverse health effects, including cancer and birth defects.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Pinal County has plenty of water. We just need to prioritize demand

The Arizona Department of Water Resources is working on revising a model based on outdated assumptions and incomplete data that have perpetuated the myth that Pinal County is facing a water shortage. In fact, Pinal County has plenty of water for today, tomorrow and 100 years from now.

Aquafornia news Seeking Alpha

Blog: Farmageddon in California: Why J.G. Boswell is set to benefit from California’s ‘catastrophic’ water law

This article will provide readers with a background on why the 2014 SGMA legislation was passed, and what the implications are for J.G. Boswell which has both surface and groundwater rights in California.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: SGMA: State Board to introduce streamlined permitting process for groundwater recharge

The streamlined permitting process is an important component of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation, as it may assist Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in more efficiently obtaining the necessary water rights to divert and recharge water during high flow events.

Aquafornia news Elk Grove Citizen

Rural water district holds first election since 1970s

The district’s decades-long election drought occurred as a result of an insufficient number of candidates to require elections. … Changes in the district’s operations led to a greater number of candidates for the recent election. The district’s biggest issue is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act …

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Wind and solar can save the planet — can they save our water supply, too?

Hydropower facilities store water in reservoirs in order to release it in a constant flow and produce energy consistently. If wind turbines and solar panels, paired with battery storage, took the pressure off of these facilities to fill the needs of the grid during a drought, more of that water could be released downstream for agricultural use, preventing further groundwater depletion.

Aquafornia news KUNR

Audio: What’s in the water?

In this episode, we explore a carcinogen called 1,2,3 Tetracholorpropane, which ended up in the water below California’s Central Valley. … We also hear from John Hadder and Dr. Glenn Miller, with Great Basin Resource Watch, about how some of the groundwater in Nevada became contaminated due to mining operations near Yerington.

Aquafornia news Reuters

Drilling boom adds stress to U.S. Western water supplies: report

About 60% of federal oil and gas drilling leases offered since 2017 are located in areas that are at risk of shortages and droughts, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Opinion: As the Vegas pipeline fight persists, remember Owens Valley

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Las Vegas water grab and pipeline –– which has been in various stages of development since 1989 –– would forever tarnish public lands and waters in Eastern Nevada and Western Utah. The idea is a direct descendant to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news AgAlert

Groundwater: Deadline nears for completion of local plans

With roughly two and a half months remaining before a state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KBAK

Underground water impacting farmland property value

Kern County is seeing a drop in agricultural property value. The water crisis plaguing the state is also affecting the value of farms here in Kern County. Michael Ming, Lead Appraiser for Alliance Ag Services, said groundwater sustainability efforts have proven to be a big challenge.

Aquafornia news The Press Democrat

Sonoma County drills wells to study groundwater sustainability

The shallow wells Sonoma County’s water agency is drilling near 11 waterways have nothing to do with delivering water to 600,000 residents of Sonoma and Marin counties. Instead, the 21 wells will serve as measuring sticks to determine whether pumping groundwater in the county’s three basins … is curbing the flow in creeks inhabited by federally protected fish and other species.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

Blog: Putting the ‘flood’ in Flood-MAR: reducing flood risk while replenishing aquifers

Flood-MAR is recognized as an emerging water management strategy that can provide broad benefits for Californians and the ecosystems of the state, including water supply reliability, flood risk reduction, drought preparedness, aquifer replenishment, water quality improvement, and climate change adaption.

Aquafornia news Antelope Valley Press

Rosamond treatment plant gets upgrade

The revamped and expanded plant is expected to be operational in spring 2021 and will do so with a new name — The Rosamond CSD Water Reclamation Plant — to better describe its ultimate purpose. In addition to handling the community’s wastewater disposal, the plant will recharge the underlying groundwater basin, providing additional groundwater for the District to pump.

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